Greener computing is as much about individual choices and behavior as it is about better products. Simple changes can make a big difference.
Set up your computer to automatically go into standby or sleep mode after being idle for a period of time (such as 10 minutes). This will reduce its power consumption during periods of inactivity to only a few watts.
Turn your computer off if you will not be using it for more than an hour or two. Powering your computer up and down consumes more energy than leaving it on for short periods of time, especially if the computer goes into standby mode. Hibernating and waking your computer can take even less energy (and time) than fully turning it off and on again.
Dial back the brightness. Many screens or monitors are brighter at their default setting than they need to be, so conserve energy by using a lower brightness setting. The power difference can be up to 15 W, even with modern 19-inch LCD monitors (which use much less energy than older CRT monitors).
Tone down the color. Choose dark-colored images and Web pages for your monitor background, screen saver, and Web home page. Your computer uses more energy to produce the light necessary for bright images.
Save energy by “Blackling.” If you do a lot of Web searching, set your home page to www.blackle.com. This mostly black search engine obtains the same results as Google, but without all the energy that goes into displaying bright colors.
Kill the phantom loads. Electronic devices can consume energy when they’re plugged in but not on. Plug your computer and all your peripherals into an energy-saving power strip that turns off everything with one switch. Keep rarely used peripherals, like scanners, on a separate power strip.
Cut the power. Power strip or not, turn off any peripherals when not in use. Collectively, printers, scanners, monitors, DSL or cable modems, network routers, and other equipment can draw tens of watts when sitting idle.
Kick the gaming habit. Gaming video cards are the worst power hogs among computer components today. Need your gaming fix? Go to Blackle’s gaming Web site—www.blacklegames.com—for energy-saving gaming.